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Boston Bruins' Jake DeBrusk drives in to score on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault during overtime in Montreal. The Bruins won 2-1 on March 14, 2024.Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press

Jake DeBrusk expected a pass the whole way up the ice.

Brad Marchand, sitting on career goal No. 399, sprinted down on an odd-man rush in overtime with DeBrusk by his side.

The Boston captain then passed up a chance at reaching 400 in enemy territory, feeding DeBrusk 24 seconds into overtime.

“I’m hoping he’s passing,” DeBrusk said. “You’re just hoping for that puck, or if he shoots you’re hoping for a rebound, you’re hoping to get a touch on it.

“But I was screaming at him up the ice the whole time (that we) had two, so I think I knew it was coming my way.”

Marchand’s gamble paid off – DeBrusk converted the pass into the game-winning goal as the Bruins defeated the archrival Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

Danton Heinen scored in regulation for Boston (39-14-15), which was coming off a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday.

Linus Ullmark made 18 saves in his second straight win.

DeBrusk and Ullmark are among the Bruins players feeling a weight off their shoulders after their names circulated the rumour mill before last week’s NHL trade deadline.

“I’ve been through it before,” DeBrusk said. “I think that everybody in this room can agree, it’s a sense of relief when you know where you’re going to be.”

“We really value those two in particular, as people, as teammates and as Boston Bruins,” added head coach Jim Montgomery. “They love being Bruins, and it shows in the way they’re playing right now.”

Nick Suzuki scored the lone goal for Montreal (25-30-11). Sam Montembeault stopped 22 shots.

The historic rivalry drew “Let’s Go Bruins!” and “Go Habs Go!” chants – and jeers for Marchand every time he touched the puck. The matchup has overwhelmingly favoured Boston in recent years, with the Bruins winning 13 of 14 meetings.

The Canadiens jumped on the power play with 8:53 left in the third period, only for Suzuki to take a double-minor penalty for high-sticking Charlie McAvoy a minute into the man advantage – leading to a mix of cheers and jeers from the crowd.

“The biggest rivalry probably in hockey, you expect that,” DeBrusk said. “The Bell Centre here has great fans. We heard when they had swings, we heard when we had swings.”

Montreal fended off four Boston power plays Thursday, and the penalty kill improved to 18-for-18 over the past six games – a positive takeaway for the Canadiens after a tightly contested loss.

“It was a huge part of the game,” defenceman David Savard said.”We gave ourselves a chance to get the extra point. But I wish we were on the other side tonight.”

Heinen opened the scoring 4:49 into the first period by sliding a rebound past Montembeault for his 12th of the season while falling after a check from Juraj Slafkovsky in front of the net.

“He’s a good hockey player. I know that he complements people,” Montgomery said of Heinen, who was signed on a professional tryout in training camp. “He’s a real intelligent player that can play all 200 feet.”

Boston dominated the play through 11 minutes, outshooting the Canadiens 8-1 while holding the puck in Montreal’s zone for minutes at a time.

Suzuki evened the game at 14:37 with his 26th of the campaign, tying a career high.

Cole Caufield started the play with a relentless forecheck that led to a Brandon Carlo turnover. The puck eventually fell to Slafkovsky, who laid it on a platter for Suzuki to hammer into a gaping net.

“We’re continuing to develop as a team, we’re playing well and we’re showing consistency in our performances, and our schedule is tough,” said Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said. “It’s a good challenge for us. You’ve gotta embrace it when it’s hard.”

Boston nearly re-took the lead with five minutes left in a tight-checking second period when Pavel Zacha sent David Pastrnak in on a breakaway. The Czech deked Montembeault cleanly but couldn’t beat the post on the backhand.

Montgomery said the game wasn’t “a Picasso,” but noted it was important for the Bruins to win this type of game late in the season.

“I didn’t think we had our normal legs, for whatever reason, but our guys dug down and found a way to win,” he said.

Peeke debut

Andrew Peeke made his Bruins debut after Boston acquired the 25-year-old defenceman from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Zboril and a third-round draft pick ahead of last week’s trade deadline.

Peeke slotted in on Boston’s third pair alongside Parker Wotherspoon. Forward John Beecher played his first NHL game since Jan. 13 after being recalled Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Bruins forward James van Riemsdyk and blueliner Matt Grzelcyk were out due to illness.

Back in the lineup

Forward Colin White returned to the Canadiens lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury while defenceman Jordan Harris drew in following one game as a healthy scratch. Forwards Michael Pezzetta and Jesse Ylonen, and defenceman Jayden Struble sat out.

Up next

Bruins: Open a three-game homestand Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Canadiens: Begin a five-game road trip at the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

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